With solemn faces, C.J. Hamilton and Chris Whynder carried a banner through the north end of Halifax Saturday afternoon that read “Education Not Incarceration.”
The two Auburn Drive High School students, who will graduate Thursday, led a 50-person multicultural march that included a stop at Halifax Regional Police headquarters. A main message to come from the protest organized by Black Independence Network Nova Scotia (BINNS) was the claim of criminalization of black youth, including by local police and the justice system.
“Schools not prisons,” Isaac Saney, a faculty member at Dalhousie University, bellowed into the megaphone. Walking beside him, a young girl carried a sign that read “Domestic terrorists wear blue!”
Following brawls at Cole Harbour High School and Auburn Drive High School in May, BINNS said they have been challenging the media for misrepresenting what they say was unprompted police brutality towards black students. BINNS literature handed out at the protest said police arrested 14 black youths at Auburn Drive after a schoolyard argument May 1.
One protesting parent, who wouldn’t give her name because it could identify her son who was charged as a result of the brawl, said police used excessive force against her child, leaving him with a black eye and rings around his wrists from handcuffs.
“Police have to do their job, but I think they’re being excessive, especially towards youth” she said.
Saney said racism from police and the media is typical.
“The black community has come to unfortunately expect it,” he said. “It’s part of being black in Nova Scotian society.”
Halifax RCMP spokesman Joe Taplin said yesterday police management reviewed its handling of both brawls and concluded they “were handled appropriately at this time.”
As to allegations of criminalization of black youths by local police, Taplin said they have “never portrayed that” and “we arrest the individuals who are responsible for committing an offence.”
– with notes from Philip Croucher